The world has struggled to recreate the masterpiece that was Ishiro Honda’s original Godzilla since its release in 1954. Perhaps the most notable (for the wrong reasons) of all was Roland Emmerich’s 1998 flop interpretation of the most famous fictional monster.
British director Gareth Edwards is the latest to take on the huge task of a huge creature with his first and only previous directing experience coming in the 2010 critically acclaimed, Monsters. Appropriately, his next project is to take on the biggest monster of them all.
Edwards decides upon a slightly tweaked back-story. In 1999, Fukushima nuclear plant in Tokyo suffers an unexplained earthquake in which scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) loses his wife. For the next 15 years we learn that he has been seeking an official explanation for the disaster, trespassing into quarantined areas to find clues.
His son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a bomb disposal marine, living in San Francisco with his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and their child. After hearing that his father has again been arrested for his curiosity, Ford travels to Tokyo to put a stop to his Dad’s incessant actions. Upon his visit, he is convinced to help his father, resulting in them both getting caught. However, this time they get answers as they are taken to a top-secret plant where they discover a MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), kept there as it feeds on the atomic energy of the disaster from 15 years ago.
After attempting shutting it down, the MUTO awakens and escapes, destroying everything in its path, searching for a second MUTO, a female for which to mate with, residing in Nevada. With the might of the US army attempting and failing to down the MUTOs, only one thing can save them now according to scientist Ken Watanabe and side kick Sally Hawkins. Cue Godzilla, backing up the best line of the movie delivered by Watanabe, “The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control, and not the other way around.” Humans merely step aside in the final act of the film as these three giants do battle in the heart of San Francisco.
The toughest task of a film in which the main character is a monster, is trying to evade complete demolition, bypassing any human element, expertly demonstrated by Emmerich in 1998. Instead, Edwards’ uses both Brody’s as the centre of attention. It’s a shame therefore that Cranston is so wasted, as his moments in the opening half hour are by far the most powerful and touching in the entire movie. Perhaps this was a case of moving the film’s attention to the monster of the hour.
The film looks incredible. CGI can often be misused but in Godzilla, the beast looks magnificent in its appearance and motion, escaping its recent dinosaur esque image and returning to the original 1954 routes, another feature suggesting Edwards’ love for the beast. Even more impressive and exhilarating is the noise – the roar of Godzilla in particular is spine tingling. It is epic in every sense of the word and a remake well worthy of its legend.